They Change Us': The social and emotional impacts on music facilitators of engaging in music and singing with asylum seekers


Music and Arts in Action




The literature on the social and emotional wellbeing of community musicians who engage with marginalised groups with complex mental health issues such as refugees, is relatively scarce. The Scattered People is a collective of volunteer musicians, music facilitators, and community development workers who engage, through musical activities, with asylum seekers and refugees who have experienced detention in Australia. This discussion focuses on key examples of social and emotional distress for community music facilitators through their interactions with asylum seekers. The community musicians explained the circumstances that had significant impacts on their wellbeing in terms of (i) their engagement with people in a detention centre, and (ii) the happiness and concerns linked to the asylum seekers they came across. Our paper presents the second author's reflections on two songs from the Scattered People repertoire, which were created and performed as the embodiment of these social and emotional impacts. Our aim is to ensure that this important aspect of community music, which has been thus far neglected, receives more attention.

Music and Health Institute Terms

Distress; Emotional Functioning; Mental Health; Recreative Music Methods; Refugees; Singing a Song; Wellness and Well-Being

Indexed Terms

Happiness; Refugees; Embodiment; Musicians; Community development; Well being; Social change; Mental health; Psychological distress; Emotional distress; Political asylum

Study Type

Editorial, Opinions, Position Papers

Document Type


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